Karen Hutton is an International Landscape and Travel Photographer, Artist, Speaker, Author, Educator, and Voice. Through stunning imagery, humor, thought-provoking ideas and a genuinely positive outlook, she inspires people to discover their artistic voice in photography — while making it all feel like an unforgettable and eye-opening adventure. Photography has been a part of her life from inception. She’s widely followed in social media and her voice has been heard around the world in commercials, narrations, apps, trains, tutorials and television.
As well as being a Professional Fujifilm X-Photographer, Karen creates online courses and leads photography workshops/retreats in the U.S. and Europe focused upon Storytelling, Seeing Photographically, Finding Your Artistic Voice and the Power of Awe and creates online courses for Kelbyone. Her articles have been translated into multiple languages and she speaks all over the country about photography and inspiration. She is also featured in a short documentary film about her approach to photography, created by Smugmug. Her adoring fans + customers have called her “Pure JOY, LIGHT & absolute FUN!”, “An inspirational gem” and “Incredibly artistic. Captivatingly genius. World class!” Karen believes deeply that finding your truest voice and “living life as if it were your art” is of the highest calling. That when you let it in, light, artistry and creativity flood everywhere, pouring through life’s nooks and Guilty pleasures? When she’s not traveling the world, you can find her watching epic movie trailers, crunching popcorn at the latest superhero blockbuster and sipping Bulletproof coffee.
“The artist vocation is to send light into the human heart.” – Robert Schumann
Photographer, educator, and artist, Karen Hutton, was given FUJIFILM X-S10, as well as XF16mmF2.8 R WR and XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lenses, and challenged to create a project only using the CLASSIC Neg. Film Simulation mode. She immediately knew where to go: the rugged landscapes surrounding Lake Tahoe and Lake Donner.
“I just love it there, it’s a place where so many journeys and stories have taken place. That particular area has tremendous meaning to me personally, because I’ve done a lot of healing in the mountains over the years,” says Karen. “Sometimes where you are, where you want to go, and what your artistic intent is all mesh together at the right time. And these are those areas for me.”
Despite spending so much time in these mountains, Karen never grows tired of framing the beauty of the landscape. In addition to the huge significance these stunning peaks, lakes, and valleys hold in both her history and the history of the US, they’re also very photogenic.
“It’s magical on many levels and then also visually it’s really good because, while it has a very particular look of the Sierras, the Sierras can sometimes look kind of stark, and this has the right balance of mountains, trees, lakes, and features,” she explains.
Karen set out to create a series of images that worked as one to tell the whole story of the area. She used the wide-angle XF16mmF2.8 lens to create panoramic frames that act as an introduction, and then used the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 telephoto zoom to illustrate the finer details and textures, adding some personality.
Both lenses blended perfectly with X-S10. Its slimline body, large handgrip and fully customizable controls made for a lightweight companion that felt perfectly comfortable in her hand, even with the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 attached.
“The grip for me is great,” Karen enthuses. “Also, I am very ‘right-brain’ so I really like that I can customize the controls and take care of the ‘left-brain’ items through muscle memory, because that seems more natural to me. I never felt like I was menu diving. Everything was set in a place that felt natural.”
All of this combined with the vari-angle LCD touchscreen meant Karen was in her element. “I’m a huge fan of articulating screens, because I get in different, weird positions for my images for point-of-view type shots. So, X-S10’s screen moving all those different ways was pretty cool,” she says.
Karen also praises the benefits of X-S10’s five-axis, five-stop in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system. “I have a tripod to use when creating in low light, such as pre-sunrise and during sunrise, but sometimes you just want to be free,” she exclaims.
Karen created all the images in this project using the CLASSIC Neg. Film Simulation mode and tells us that it really helped to inspire and encourage her to create right there, in the moment.
“There’s an expression of the moment that I really want in the image itself and I like to be able to control some of that in-camera. I don’t want to always have to post-process to arrive at my creative vision. I don’t want to have to imagine it. I want it to actually be there in the camera and I want the camera itself to bring ideas to inspire me,” she says.
This ability to create closer to the moment perfectly complements Karen’s overall approach to photography, which is one of preserving the emotion that is felt when a photographer experiences the thing they are framing.
“I love moving through life. I love going places. I love the journey. I love speed. I love to ski. I love all that. But I’m a person who also likes to examine things. I like to take a moment. I like to have that moment of awe,” she explains. “Because a moment of awe changes everything. And to me, that’s magic. To me that’s transformational, it’s miraculous. And I feel like those moments are everywhere.”
She continues: “The way I often talk about it is finding the DNA of a moment, the very core idea. When you have that moment of awe – what is the DNA of that? How do you make an image of that so someone else might have a chance of experiencing it too? I find studying that is the most fascinating thing ever. I never get tired of trying to achieve it, because it really is like trying to capture lightning in a bottle!”
Karen finishes by praising the all-round versatility of X-S10. Not only for its portability, flexible controls, and IBIS, but for its ability to excel at all skill levels and in any genre.
“This is a camera for someone like me who wants a lighter second body, but it’s also a really good tool for bridging the gap between a beginner everyday camera and something more capable.”
“I like equipment such as X-S10, which I can scale way back to consumer level if I want, or I can ramp up and create images I can print and sell and do whatever I want with. I like that, because that’s a one-stop-shop to me.”
Learn more about Karen’s creative process with this exclusive behind-the-scenes video!